Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Aimpoint PRO Optic

At SHOT I saw Aimpoint’s new PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic) red-dot sight. I like Aimpoint’s sights, and use them on my AR’s, so when I got a sample of the PRO I hit the range.

The PRO looks like Aimpoint’s M3 series, and has the same quality you expect with all their other products. It runs on a DL 1/3N battery, which provides you with something like 3 years of battery life. Now, when they talk about battery life, keep in mind this is with a fresh battery under ideal temperature and other conditions, and at setting number _.

In real life you’ll have to replace the battery more often, especially if you use it. But the point is you can turn the sight on, leave it on, and change out the battery according to what you figure out is life expectancy for your application.

Since you can leave the sight on all the time, Aimpoint has outfitted the PRO with a clear rear lens cap. The front cap is still black, but the beauty of working with the red-dot, which allows you to keep both eyes open, is that even if the front cap is shut you can still acquire a target quickly, and if necessary make surgical shots. When you have the opportunity then you can flip up the front cap and dial in the intensity level of the dot.

It has six daylight settings, one extra bright, and four for NV kit, with the correct lens coating, and will work with the 3X magnifiers. The dot is two moa, which I prefer because it’s small enough to make accurate hits at extended distances if necessary.

If you want a bigger dot turn up the brightness, make the dot flare out some, and it appears larger. For me the four moa dot is a little big for headshots at one hundred yards. Regardless of what you use, with dots it’s important to make sure the shots are going into the center of the dot when zeroing your rifle.

The PRO comes with a mount and spacer for attaching the sight to your flattop AR. For shotguns or subguns you’ll need to remove the spacer. The mount has a large knob for tightening, with a preset tension for the proper torque for securing the sight. This makes it sort of fool proof.

The best part of the new sight? The price. I’ve found it for sale for $400, which is a good deal for a great sight, with mount, and with spacer. All you have to do is install the battery, clamp it on the rifle, and zero it. Then make sure to practice so you have the proper skills to use it, especially stuff like using the sight as a rear aperture in conjunction with the front sight in case the red-dot stops working.

Good kit is necessary. Practice is mandatory. And remember, technology can never replace skill.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | AR-15, Gear | Leave a comment

Health Care, 2011

New-year’s resolutions are a common practice, and a lot of these pledges focus on improving our health. Plus these days it’s hard to swing a cat without hitting someone discussing the health care programs that are such a hot political issue. My favorite individual health care program, which is very affordable, is personal defense, protecting yourself and family from illnesses delivered by two legged carriers. 

Eventually we’re all going to perish from one thing or another; the list of “natural” death causes is a long one. Some of these illnesses, when treated promptly, can be cured. The key is applying the corrective measures in a timely fashion. The same is true of violent threats. If you don’t do something to fix the problem, quickly, then you’re going to end up hurtin’.

The key to your health care program against violent aggressor is to plan in advance. It’s sort of an insurance program, a system that allows you access to the care you need without delay. And like insurance, you have to pay in advance. After you get sick it will be hard to buy an insurance policy.

So this means getting a good weapon, one that suits your needs. You may require several types to fulfill all your requirements. You may go through a couple of different type weapons until you discover satisfaction. Along with weapons goes all the related gear such as quality holsters, mags and that type stuff. If you’re already good to go on this you’re ahead of the game.

Step next – get training, an introduction to the skills needed on how to properly use these tools. Too many people simply buy a weapon and then assume that when attacked they’ll just shoot their attacker. There is a lot more to fighting with a firearm than just shootin’. And there’s normally very little time involved in the fight, so you probably won’t have time to pickup the necessary skills under pressure.

After getting training it’s time to practice, learning through repetition. Just remember that practice isn’t just going to the shooting range, where all you can do is shoot, and firing groups at a round bulls-eye. You need to move, use cover, work from various positions, including from the ground, and manipulate your weapon under a different conditions, like in the dark. If you don’t have a place to do this live fire then work on these skills dry.

Lastly, mentally prepare yourself to apply your skills efficiently, and with short notice. Pay attention to your environment, always aware of the people around you, where cover is located, and what direction your closest exit or route of retreat is. Mentally be ready at all times, because we know trouble can occur anywhere from any direction. There isn’t time to hesitate.

As I tell my students, “personal protection is an individual responsibility.” As the economy gets worse, which I fear is going to happen, your chances of being involved in a dangerous encounter are going to increase. Invest now, so when the time comes you’re ready.

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Defensive Mindset, Gear | Leave a comment

Basic Training Gear

We spend a lot of thought – or at least you should – and money on weapons, mags, pouches, and the such, but often shooters will show up to class without some of the basic pieces of gear that are essential for training but often overlooked.

Number one on the list is eye-protection. While technology may eventually catch up, at this point the eyes are one part of the body that when damaged can’t be repaired or replaced. You need to purchase and wear eye protection that meets or exceeds the “ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010 American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Face and Eye Protection.” All eye-pro is not created equally. To shoot accurately, especially at extended distances or small targets, you have to see clearly. You’ll be wearing them for hours at a time, and with ear-protection over them, so they need to be comfortable. Keep in mind you’ll need clear lens for low-light training, or the new photochromatic lens that adjust according to the light level. For protecting my eyes I like the products made by Revision, Oakley, and Rudy, and I wear them on and off the range.

Ear-protection is also mandatory. I recommend muffs as opposed to plugs since a lot of the noise that can damage our hearing comes in behind the ear at the point about where the jawbone attaches to the skull. Electronic muffs are great because you can hear range commands or your partners’ communications clearly, but they shut down anything exceeding a certain level. This is another item you need to make sure fits your needs because a lot of muffs will prevent you from getting a proper cheek weld when shooting a long gun. I use the Peltor 6S and flip the muffs upside-down so the thin portion is at the bottom.

Hats are also required. The bill of the hat will keep hot brass from getting lodged between your eye-protection and your head. This can damage your eyes and create a dangerous situation for everyone on the range. You also want to keep brass from going down your shirt, especially rifle brass, which is hot. Wear a shirt that buttons at the neck, or even better wear a bandana around your neck. Long sleeve shirts are another advantage that keeps you from getting burned by hot brass settling into your bent elbow.

For rifle work I wear gloves, because with a long-gun the training and weapon manipulations are usually more intense. You need gloves that fit well, protect your hands, yet still allow you to feel in order to operate your weapon properly. Once you find the type you like buy several pair. I haven’t found any that will last a long time under hard use.

Fighting with firearms requires training and practice. Maximize the time you have on the range for live fire by having the proper gear, and don’t overlook the little things that make a big difference.

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Gear | Leave a comment

Training, Part II – Gear

Every class I’ve ever attended had an equipment list. If it’s on the list bring it. You don’t want to be “that” guy in the class that everyone remembers for the wrong reasons. I normally start gathering and packing gear at least two weeks before a class. This insures you have everything you need, and that it packs up compact enough to fit your travel plans.

Part of training is about evaluating your equipment, discovering how to operate it properly, and its advantages and disadvantages. But don’t go to class with new equipment that hasn’t been tested. With a new weapon you need to fire it enough to insure it’s functioning properly, which means at least two or three hundred rounds. At the same time you’re also confirming your ammunition and magazines are working properly. I’ve seen people come to class with ammo they never tested, and they didn’t discover it wouldn’t function in their weapon until the class started. With anything that can break or fail, carry a spare.

Don’t try to do a two-day course with three different weapons. You’ll have plenty to think about without trying to remember which pistol you’re shooting. Using one type weapon allows you to focus on the important lessons, plus it cuts way down on the amount of gear you have to carry.

I use two range bags to pack my gear. I have a large bag that holds gear I may need. This is where I carry my rain/cold weather gear, elbow and kneepads, spare mags, cleaning gear, batteries, and small tools. I also keep a little snack in this bag. You tend to work up an appetite shootin’ bad guys. A spare holster, belt, pouches and notebook with pens also go in the big bag. Anything that might be affected by rain goes into plastic zip-lock bags.

I have a small range bag that I actually carry with me on the range which fits into the big bag. The small bag holds stuff I know I’ll need such as eye/ear protection, flashlights, sight tools, lights, and a first aid and trauma kit.

If you’re a regular guy or gal training to defend your family don’t show up for class decked out in yards of Velcro and black tactical gear. When you’re attacked in a dark parking lot you won’t have that tactical vest and thigh-rig holster. Armed professionals should train with the gear you normally operate with. During class don’t hesitate to ask other students about their gear. This is an opportunity to get opinions from people actually using the gear before you buy something.

Electronic earmuffs should be considered mandatory. Earplugs don’t really protect your hearing; the area right behind the ear is where a lot of damage can occur. Regular muffs protect this, but you can’t hear commands. The electronic earmuffs are affordable and recommended.

In part III of this series we’ll discuss the class itself and post-class actions, where the learning really starts.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Gear, Preparing for Training - 1, 2, 3 | Leave a comment

Tacti-Cool

Most readers of this column should be familiar with EOTAC, which makes discreet and tactical clothing. If not, you need to check them out. (www.eotac.com) They are producing innovative designs, with quality features and construction. EOTAC’s newest introduction to their line of outerwear is not a new product, but a new color option. The Operator Grade Field Jacket is finally available in the “Lizard” camo pattern.

I’ve worn one of their olive color jackets for a while now, and it’s usually my first choice for everyday wear. The jacket’s is based on a European military design from the late 1950’s, so it has a retro look that I really like. There are plenty of pockets, several with elastic webbing for holding smaller items securely. Pockets are important for me because I carry a lot of “gear,” especially in cooler weather when I always have a watch cap and gloves with me. The Operator jacket has buttons to close it, and a zipper that only covers the top half of the jacket. This feature allows you to be zipped up, keeping the upper half of your body warm, and still have quick access to anything you’re carrying on your belt. The heavy 9-ounce cotton is treated with Dupont Teflon coating that protects it against water and oil based fluids. This is one badass jacket.

The new Lizard camouflage is based on a pattern originally used by French Foreign Legion Paratroopers during the Algerian War. It’s similar to a Tiger Stripe pattern, except using brown and shades of green instead of black, green and tan. One thing about camouflage is that you should avoid pure black. It doesn’t exist in nature, and it stands out in both the bush and urban areas. The Lizard pattern also appears more three dimensional than the Tiger Stripe because you have colors on top or overlapping other colors, which creates a sense of depth, an essential element of any camouflage. My only problem now is that I’m going to have to paint up one of my rifles to match the jacket.

One could say that wearing a camo military style coat will attract too much attention out in public, but in urban areas “tactical” type clothing is in style, and around here in “Ala-frickin-bama” almost everyone wears camo clothing of one form or another, so I don’t see it drawing any more attention than wearing any other type hunting jacket.

Your clothing should be considered as another link in your tactical chain. You either dress to blend into the environment you are in, or dress for the demands of the job you do. Regardless of what type/brand clothing you wear, make sure it meets your specific needs.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Gear | Leave a comment

Tactical First Aid

“I once read that everyone who prepares themselves to take a life in self-defense should prepare themselves to save one as well. Should those of us with an interest in self-defense take first aid training, and if so how in depth should that training be? Mitch M.”

Our ‘tactical’ toolbox should include a lot more than just fighting techniques. Staying alive, or surviving a violent encounter, is the ultimate goal. Avoiding or escaping confrontation is the top option for the armed citizen. For law-enforcement or military applications responding with overwhelming power can force the threat(s) to make a mental decision that they don’t want to fight any more. When it comes down to fighting the goal is to inflict enough damage that physically our opponents can’t continue to fight. This is accomplished by draining the fluids, cutting off the supply of oxygen, or shutting down the computer that operates the body.

The other side of this coin is that if we are injured, we need to stop the bleeding, keep breathing, and prevent shock from developing. The ability to keep someone alive until professional help can take over is an important tactical skill. After all, we learn how to manipulate our weapons to keep them operational and in the fight. If you think about it, your ultimate weapon is the body and mind, so we need to be able to keep them functioning as well. Plus, these skills come in handy for natural disasters, automobile wrecks, and armed conflict.

Your tactical gear should include a way to stop the loss of blood. Today we have blood-clotting agents that do a great job with this, even with arterial blood lose. Battle bandages, rolls of gauze, duct tape and tourniquets are also essential. Every member of your ‘team’ – whether we’re talking shooters or family members – should be equipped with these items and the knowledge to use them. It’s also a good idea to know how to use pressure techniques to stop blood loss. This gear is small enough to fit into a small bag on your belt or vest.

Your job is to stay alive, or keep your partners alive long enough for the pros show up, and then let them take over from there. You don’t need to know how to do major surgery, but you do need to know more than just how to pull out a splinter in a finger. The key is to determine what you need for your particular needs – just like any other tactical skill or piece of gear – and then locate someone who can teach you what you need to know.
As with everything, it’s better to have it, know how to use it, and not need it, as opposed to needing it and not having it. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and reality will fall somewhere between the two.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Gear, General Training | Leave a comment

Pocket Pistols

Although I’ve written about carry small pocket pistols in the past, it’s a subject that keeps popping up, so I think it’s worth revisiting, especially with the large numbers of people who are buying small weapons. “But I would never compromise and carry a pistol that small,” you say. But face it; you’ve already compromised by carrying a pistol. If I could I’d carry around a carbine everywhere I go. That’s not an option, so I carry a handgun. And sometimes it’s not feasible to carry a full-size pistol, so I concede and carry a smaller weapon.

There are a variety of methods for concealing small pistols. Obviously they fit into the pockets of pants and jackets. Tiny purses can hold tiny pistols. Fanny packs are another option, as long as they don’t scream “tactical.” Backpacks, computer bags, and daytime organizers can carry pocket pistols.

Regardless of how and where you carry you must isolate and secure the weapon. Just because it’s called a “pocket” pistol don’t just shove it into a pocket and call it good. The pistol will gather lint and dirt like a magnet in places that create malfunctions and jams. The other factor is safety. The trigger must be covered and protected at all times. Period. Anything else is dangerous.

Pocket holsters, available in plastic Kydex, leather, and soft synthetic materials, keep the gun from ‘printing’ on the outside of your pocket, and cover the trigger. The holster should be designed so you can get a complete grip on the weapon, and when you present the pistol the holster stays lodged in the pocket.

Carrying in a computer bag, backpack, or purse also means you can have flashlights, edged weapons, or other ‘survival’ tools all in one package. Just remember the bag has to be with you in order to access your weapon and gear. Ankle holsters are another good alternative for carrying smaller pistols, both revolvers and semi-autos. ‘Bellyband’ holsters – elastic bands that strap on above your waist underneath your shirt -are another good alternative. These are also ideal modes for carrying backup weapons.

The cool thing about smaller pistols is that you can carry several of them, in various locations. When you’re trying to keep your head from getting kicked in getting the pistol on your ankle may be quicker than the one on your side. A pistol in your left rear pocket works can be accessed if your right hand or arm gets injured. A secondary weapon, or even a third pistol allows you to arm a friend if necessary.

Determining what carry method works best for you takes thought and practice. Your final carry solutions may include multiple holsters and weapons to fit different circumstances. Just remember that generally there is a trade-off; the more concealed your weapon is the longer it takes to access. Knowing this makes it even more important that you stay aware of your environment, keeping your eyes up and scanning, looking for possible trouble. Then, if you need your weapon, get to it before the fight starts.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Auto Pistol, Concealed Carry, Gear | Leave a comment

Which Gun – Where to Carry

We looked at possibilities for concealed carry on Tuesday. Now we can look at how to carry. I prefer to have a service-style gun, or a compact version thereof in some cases, close to hand. Most usually that’ll be in a belt holster, either worn inside the waist or outside, on the strong side. I changed that a little during a hog hunt in Texas, which was the first time I went with the primary handgun in a cross draw. I’m not normally a fan of cross draws but expected to be seated a lot in a blind or in a vehicle.

The cross draw offers the butt of the gun to people standing to your front, not always a good thing. If you move to draw by reaching across your body, you could have someone move in quick to pin your arm (and the gun) against your front. This isn’t helpful.

S&W M&P340 in Kramer Pocket Holster

The belt-holstered handgun is usually the best way to go if circumstances permit. In addition to this service style handgun, I usually back it up. When the compact service-style gun was the Glock 19 9mm, the backup was the Glock 26 in an Alessi Ankle Holster. That’s a lot of gun with a weighty loaded magazine on the end of your leg, but it took the same ammo and magazines the primary pistol took.

My most carried backup over the term of my life has been the snubby revolver. On the hunting trip mentioned before, the S&W M&P340 was in my right pocket in a Safariland Pocket Holster. It was on me the whole time, in the field, in camp and driving to and from. At Gunsite, I trained with the Ruger LCR carried in my pocket. I’m a great fan of pocket carry for a backup.

I’m not a fan of ankle carry for a primary pistol or revolver. It’s too far away from your hands and only quick to hand if you are seated. I actually got to find out how quickly I could get the gun from an ankle holster during a pre-raid surveillance when I was seated in a vehicle. It was quick, it was unobserved by the citizen who came charging up to the car and the gun was where I needed it. Pocket carry wouldn’t have served so well there.

Glock 26, Alessi Ankle Holster

Similarly, if you are on the ground when you go for the gun, the ankle rig can be handy. Why would you be on the ground? You may have been shot or knocked down by physical force. You may have stumbled or tripped and gone down. It happens.

While we’re at it, let’s face one more fact of life: all the guns in the world don’t help if you are in White. If you haven’t availed yourself of training from one of the big outfits or at least read Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense, shame on you.

To win, you need to be ready to act without taking lots of time to be shocked that someone would attack you. Don’t be carrying guns without having your mind and eyes switched on. The mind is the weapon. If you are “asleep at the wheel,” you’re no more armed by possessing guns than you would be without.

Some have told me they couldn’t get used to ankle holsters or pocket carry. One of my best friends in the world has carried a S&W 640-1 .357 Magnum in one pocket or another since he bought it. He bought one of the first 640-1s to hit the state back when they first built it in the early 1990s. Heavy gun? Sure. Kick a lot with Magnums (all he carries in it)? Oh, yeah.

But if he’s wearing pants, that gun is on him 24/7. And he’s switched on.

You have to wear the gun all day every day to get used to it. For two guns, more effort – but not twice as much. It’s only a little extra.

And why are we doing this? To make it back home at the end of the day – alive and with no more extra holes in us than necessary.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Auto Pistol, Concealed Carry, Gear | Leave a comment

Concealed Carry Options

Summertime – ‘Professional’ person (a suit) wants to CCW, but the constraints of wardrobe make IWB pistol rig a difficult problem, mainly from a concealment standpoint.  In the summer, usually a golf shirt or dress shirt without jacket is worn. Untucked is not an option! I have a backpack that I have rigged for carry and have practiced with. But this rig pales in comparison to IWB carry for many obvious reason. Any other options?
— Tim W.

When it comes to concealed carry either the way I carry dictates how I dress, or the clothing I wear determines how I carry. My personal preference is an inside-the-waistband holster, with a garment covering the weapon. But there are times, as the reader above mentions, that this isn’t an option. In this case I have three other modes of carry.

Small caliber semi’s are extremely popular, mainly to the fact that the offerings today, such as Ruger’s new .380, are quality and reliable pistols. With a pocket holster you can carry small pistols with ease; the holster prevents the weapon from ‘printing’ on your clothing, protects it from lint and dirt, and covers the trigger. I normally use the right rear pocket. I can get to that even if I’m in a kneeling position, and it isolates it from everything else I carry in my pockets.

‘Belly-bands,’ elastic bands that go around your body underneath a shirt, are also a good carry system. Body size determines how big a weapon you can carry. These bands also offer a small pouch to carry an extra magazine. Another advantage of the belly-band is that it slims up your figure. A disadvantage of this carry mode is that you have to rip your shirt up to gain access to the weapon, so you’ll have to practice to get the motions efficient.

My favorite alternative mode of carry is the ankle holster. This allows you to carry a small revolver or semi-auto, and no one ever notices. Once you get used to it you’ll forget you’re wearing it, and it’s a quick draw when you need it. If you are right-handed the holster goes on the inside of the left ankle. To present the pistol you drop down to a kneeling position, pull your pants leg up with both hands, and then draw the weapon with your right hand.

To successfully carry concealed, without others knowing you’re armed, we focus on four factors -clothing, carry method, practice, and mindset. Clothing and carry method are dictated by your needs. Once we decide how to carry, then we practice until presenting that pistol is a smooth, quick action. And as always, we concentrate on cultivating and improving the proper mindset. When I gear up at the beginning of my day I practice my draw with the gear I have. Then, I stop for a minute and say to myself, “Today may be the day I have to fight, and I am ready.”

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Concealed Carry, Gear | Leave a comment

Dress For Success

Although most people probably don’t think about it very often, the clothing you wear is just as important as any other gear you carry or use. For the armed professional – law enforcement, military or security personnel – your duty clothing is normally mandated, hopefully with decisions made according to what works best. But what about when you are off-duty? And for armed citizens, have you thought about how you dress may affect your ability to fight?

For example, footwear is extremely important. In a fight you need to be moving. We move to protective cover, to create distance, or to get a clear angle of fire on the threat. If you slip, stumble or fall because you’re wearing shoes that won’t grip on wet concrete, that’s going to be a bad thing. Even if your daily activities require you to be looking good, like suit and tie, you can still get ‘shiny’ shoes that provide you with traction.

Clothing is also critical. Pants should be loose enough for you to actually drop into a kneeling position to take advantage of cover. Coats or jackets should allow easy access to your pistol, even when buttoned or zippered closed. When you go to the range take an old sport coat, or the jacket you wear during cold weather and practice wearing that. To perform under stress you need to practice in a manner that replicates your actual circumstances as close as possible. Practice the way you carry.

While on the subject of clothing I want to mention EOTAC, a new entry into the tactical clothing market. (www.eotac.com) I’ve only seen a small sample of their total offerings, but it’s apparent that EOTAC is producing clothing that is well thought out and constructed with quality in mind. I’m extremely impressed with EOTAC’s tactical pants. For example, pants need pockets, but just sticking them everywhere doesn’t necessarily get the job done. EOTAC has added pockets to the traditional design, but in all the right places. They have standard front pockets, large side pockets on the leg, and a pocket on the front of the thigh on each side, which is actually large to shove a couple of pistol mags in them, a rifle magazine, or a large flashlight. Inside the standard rear pockets they have added smaller flat pockets so that you can carry a wallet or I.D. segregated from other items in the rear pockets. EOTAC offers a variety of products, and if their pants are any indication they’ll be well received.

When you decide to carry a weapon, whether it’s part of your job or you’ve made the decision to defend yourself and family, it will affect almost every aspect of your life, including how you dress. You may have to modify what you wear, and then practice accordingly. If you take care of the small details they don’t lead to big problems. This applies to daily life and combat.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Gear | Leave a comment